Food labelling review results released

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The report of the major national review of food labelling requirements, undertaken by a panel chaired by Dr Neal Blewett, was released in late January 2011.

Several CFA members made submissions and the report is available at the food labeling review web site operated by the Department of Health.

The report contains 61 recommendations, many of great of importance to consumers. The federal government is now considering the report. There will be a period of stakeholder consultation.

Ian Jarratt, of CFA member Queensland Consumers Association, was pleased that the report recognised that the effectiveness of its recommendations “will depend on the consumer’s ability to notice, read and comprehend the information provided”. The Review recommended a minimum print size of 3.5mm for mandatory information on the labels on food packages to achieve this end.

QCA, a strong advocate of improved unit pricing, pointed out that this recommendation highlights the need for improvements to the presentation of unit prices on the shelf labels in most supermarkets. “The minimum 3.5mm print size recommended by the Review is only for food labels which normally will be read only at arms length or less.  Yet, the size of print showing the unit prices on many supermarket shelf labels is less than 3.5mm and they have to be read at much greater distances, for example on bottom shelves often 1.6metres from eye level. Consequently, far too many unit prices are difficult or impossible to read even for consumers with normal sight let alone the many with less than perfect sight.” they said.

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